A Food Lover's Guide To Madhya Pradesh's Cuisine

MP's culinary traditions are largely influenced by the cuisines of its neighboursMaharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan
Poha, a popular dish eaten in Madhya Pradesh. Credit Shutterstock
Poha, a popular dish eaten in Madhya Pradesh. Credit Shutterstock

Tasting the local culinary offerings of a destination is as crucial an experience as taking in the local tourist sights. The state of Madhya Pradesh does not have a cuisine of its own. The state's culinary traditions are largely influenced by the cuisines of its neighbours&ndashMaharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Gourmands need not worry since outside influences make for an eclectic mix of contrasting tastes and flavours that do not disappoint.

Madhya Pradesh is the second largest state in India, and the eating habits of its citizens vary greatly. While the northern and western parts of the state focus on meat and wheat, the southern and eastern regions have rice and fish as staple diets.

The capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal, has a strong Muslim influence, as evinced by the abundance of non-vegetarian food on offer here. Visitors can savour flavour-packed dishes such as biryani, korma, keema, kebabs and many more exciting and delectable preparations. A visit to this city is also incomplete if you miss out on the famous Bhopali paan. This mildly intoxicating betel-leaf preparation, sweetened with sugared rose petals, is generally eaten at the end of a meal.

Possibly influenced by Rajasthan's famed dal baati, dal bafla is a popular vegetarian dish. The bafla (wheat roll) is a softer, more doughy variation of baati as it is boiled before being baked. Hot baflas, dipped in ghee (clarified butter), are served with spicy cooked lentils or dal. Another dish influenced by the Rajasthanis is chakki ki shaak, steamed wheat dough in gravy, and served with curd.

A much-loved breakfast staple is the poha, a mildly spiced dish made with flattened rice flakes, onions, potatoes and peanuts. A Maharashtrian speciality, poha has gained popularity in Madhya Pradesh as well. Locals eat this dish with the universal favourite sweet &ndash jalebi. This may sound like a usual pairing, but the sweet flavour of the jalebi and the saltiness of the poha go together smashingly well.

Indore is best known for bhutti ki kees, an Indian-style creamed corn eaten as a snack.

While the list of savoury dishes seems endless, there are also plenty of desserts. Apart from the traditional sweets, preparations such as khopra pak (a sweetmeat made with coconut), malpua, shrikhand and mawa bati (made with dry fruits) are the favourite local delicacies.

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